The much-needed renovation of the psychiatric ward at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital has been delayed yet again by more than a year and the cost has more than tripled to R34 million.
This was disclosed yesterday by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in an oral reply to my questions in the Legislature.
The MEC stated that the contractor had exceeded the variation order by more than 20% and was terminated.
A new tender for the work will go out this month and it was expected that the ward will be completed by March next year.
This will be the third company to work on this ward which was originally supposed to be completed in 2014.
The initial contractor, Chriselda Building Construction, was terminated after it only completed Phase 1 of the project which was the doctors rooms.
The project was re-advertised in August 2015 and a replacement contractor was supposed to complete the job in September last year at a cost of about R10 million.
I hope that a decent contractor is chosen this time who can finally fix this ward which is currently not suitable for patients.
Male and female patients are not properly separated, and there are only 20 beds. The plan is to expand to 40 beds and ensure a congenial environment for psychiatric patients.
The latest problem is that the baths and the showers have been barred to the patients for four months because of water leaks into other wards when they are used. They have to use basins or go to another ward to wash.
It is unacceptable that vulnerable psychiatric patients are treated in such poor conditions at a top hospital.
Negligence and probable corruption are to blame for the frequent appointment of contractors on health projects who cannot do the job but still get paid.
The Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department needs to choose building companies based on merit and not on political connections otherwise patients will continue to suffer from poor facilities.